State Watch

Northam speaks with Virginia lt. governor by phone amid rolling controversy

Greg Nash

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Thursday reportedly spoke by phone with Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) and attempted to do the same with Attorney General Mark Herring (D) as all three men are embroiled in separate controversies.

The Washington Post reported that Northam reached out to Fairfax and told the lieutenant governor on a phone call that he was thinking about him and his family.

Fairfax has been under scrutiny in recent days over sexual assault allegations that he has denied.

{mosads}Northam also reached out to Herring, The Post reported, but the two had not spoken as of midday Thursday.

The Post reported that Northam’s wife, Pam, has sent encouraging text messages to the spouses of Herring and Fairfax.

Northam, Fairfax and Herring — the top three elected officials in Virginia — have been engulfed in scandal this week, deepening a leadership crisis in the state.

Last Friday, a photo emerged from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page that showed two individuals, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe. The governor initially apologized for appearing in the photo, but later insisted he was not in the image. He has resisted calls for his resignation from state and national Democrats.

Days later, Fairfax became the center of scrutiny after a woman accused him of sexual assault. The lieutenant governor has denied the allegations. On Wednesday, his accuser, Vanessa Tyson, came forward with a detailed accusation, claiming Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex during what began as a consensual encounter in 2004.

Fairfax has maintained that the entire interaction was consensual. Both he and Tyson have retained legal counsel.

The state plunged further into turmoil on Wednesday when Herring admitted he wore blackface when he dressed up as a rapper at a college party in 1980.

Fairfax would be next line in line for the governorship if Northam resigned, followed by Herring, followed by the Republican Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Kirk Cox.


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